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The Disaronno Originale square bottle

Amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavoured liqueur. It is made from a base of apricot or almond pits, or sometimes both.[1]




The name is a diminutive of the Italian amaro, meaning "bitter", indicating the distinctive flavour lent by the mandorla amara--the bitter almond or the drupe kernel. However, the bitterness is not unpalatable, and the flavour is enhanced by sweeteners, and sometimes sweet almonds, in the final products.[2] Therefore, the liqueur's name can be said to describe the taste as "a little bitter". Conflation of amare and amore ("love") is primarily responsible for the associations with romance.[3] Amaretto should not be confused with amaro, a different family of Italian liqueurs that, while also sweetened, have a stronger bitter flavour coming from herbs.


Despite apparently clear etymology of the terms, and known history on the introduction and acceptance of almonds into Italian cuisine, more recent takes on the meanings and origins have come about, further popularized by the two major brands. Though of sometimes questionable factuality, these tales hold a sentimental place in Saronno culture.

In 1525, a Saronno church commissioned artist Leonardo Da Vinci and student Bernardino Luini to paint their sanctuary with frescoes.[4] As the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Luini needed to depict the Madonna, but was in need of a model. He found his inspiration in a young widowed innkeeper, who became his model and (in most versions) lover. Out of gratitude and affection, the woman wished to give him a gift. Her simple means did not permit much, so she steeped apricot kernels in brandy and presented the resulting concoction to a touched Luini.[5][6]


Disaronno Originale

Disaronno Originale (28% abv), the most popular brand[citation needed], has a characteristic bittersweet almond taste (although it contains no almonds or nuts) and is known for its distinctive appearance. Disaronno claims its "originale" amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged from the year 1525[7], and claims the Luini tale as its own particular history. Its production remains in Saronno, but the product is sold worldwide.

The company describes its amaretto as an infusion of "apricot kernel oil" with "absolute alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits". The amber liqueur is presented in a rectangular glass decanter designed by a craftsman from Murano.

The product was originally named "Amaretto di Saronno Originale" (Original Amaretto from Saronno). It subsequently changed to "Amaretto Disaronno", transforming the origin of the product into a more distinctive brand name. Finally, it changed once more to "Disaronno Originale".

According to the Disaronno website, their Amaretto contains no almonds, and is nut-free.

Lazzaroni Amaretto

Lazzaroni Amaretto (24% abv), produced by Paolo Lazzaroni & Figli S.p.A., also presents itself as the first such liqueur. However, it is based on an infusion of Lazzaroni Amaretti de Saronno (cookies), a process which imparts a "delicate almond/apricot flavour". Lazzaroni claim the tale of the young couple blessed by the bishop as the origin of their generations-guarded family recipe, dating it to 1718; the amaretto has been in production since 1851.[8]

Galliano Amaretto

The Galliano brand also markets its own Amaretto.

Other brands

Many brands market their own amaretto, among them Bols, Ciemme, Catron, Gozio, Dubois, Luxardo, and Hiram Walker.


Amaretto serves a variety of culinary uses.


  • Amaretto is added to desserts, including ice cream, which enhances the flavour of the dessert with almonds and complements chocolate. Tiramisu, a popular Italian cake, is often flavoured with either real Amaretto or alcohol-free Amaretto aroma.
  • Savoury recipes which call for it usually focus on meat, such as chicken.
  • A few shots of Amaretto can be added to pancake batter for a richer flavour.
  • Amaretto is often added to almondine sauce for fish and vegetables


Amaretto may be served neat (by itself) or on the rocks (with ice). It is often added to other beverages to create several popular mixed drinks. It is also a popular choice of liqueur to add to coffee in the morning.

The following cocktails highlight Amaretto liqueur as a primary ingredient.

French Connection

  • 1 part (3.5 cl) Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 part (3.5 cl) Cognac

Pour all ingredients directly into old fashioned glass with ice cubes. Stir gently.


  • 1 part (3.5 cl) Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 part (3.5 cl) Scotch

Pour all ingredients directly into old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.


  • 1 part (3.5 cl) Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 part (3.5 cl) Vodka

Pour all ingredients directly into old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.


  • 1 part Amaretto
  • 1 part Grapefruit juice

Pour all ingredients directly into old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.

Amaretto Sour

  • 2 oz Amaretto
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a sour glass.


  • 3 parts Amaretto
  • 7 parts Orange juice

Pour all ingredients directly into highball glass filled with ice cubes, stir gently.

Gin Bulag

  • 1 part Ginebra™ San Miguel
  • 1 part Amaretto

Pour straight into glass. Add ice. A Filipino concoction.

Amaretto Sunrise

  • 1 part Amaretto
  • 6 parts Orange Juice
  • 2 parts Grenadine

Pour amaretto over ice add orange juice and grenadine into highball glass and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

See also

External links


  1. ^ "GOZIO Amaretto Almond Liqueur". AHardy USA Ltd.. Retrieved April 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ Hopkins, Kate. "Almonds: Who Really Cares?" (August 28, 2004). Accidental Hedonist. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  3. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Amaretto". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  4. ^ "Bernardino Luini". Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  5. ^ "A Brief History of Amaretto". Alliance Atlantis Communications, Inc. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  6. ^ Disaronno. Retrieved January 1, 2007. Home → Heritage → Page 2: The Legend. (A direct link is not available due to the Adobe Flash-based interface.)
  7. ^ Disaronno. Retrieved January 1, 2007. Home → Heritage → Page 4: The "Originale" Story. (A direct link is not available due to the Adobe Flash-based interface.)
  8. ^ Product description. Lazzaroni Amaretto. Heaven Hill Distilleries. Retrieved January 1, 2007.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also amaretto



From Italian amaretto, from amaro 'bitter', from Latin amarus


Amaretto m. (genitive Amarettos, plural Amaretti)

  1. The complex, sweet-bitter, almond-flavoured liqueur amaretto

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